Even as HBO has been under attack from the right and left for Bill Maher’s misogyny, comes a reminder from writer/producer Aaron Sorkin that Time-Warner-CNN-HBO really, really doesn’t give a damn what viewers on the starboard side of the aisle think about the conglomerate. “Good move to alienate all the conservatives right away in the first episode,” Mickey Kaus quips at the Daily Caller, regarding West Wing producer Aaron Sorkin’s new series. “Get down to the core Hollysnob audience without wasting anyone’s time.”
But isn’t this simply Bulworth: The Television Series? The premise is certainly the same as Warren Beatty’s 1998 movie, as seen in the above trailer.
Actually, Sorkin goes Bulworth one better. Inside of Sen. Bulworth, Beatty’s putative moderate Clinton-era Democrat, was an angry raging, bigoted hard leftist. Inside of Will McAvoy, the character portrayed by veteran actor Jeff Daniels, Sorkin’s self-proclaimed “registered Republican,” is an angry raging, bigoted leftist. Naturally, he’s obsessed with God and hurricanes:
“I’m a registered Republican, I only seem liberal because I believe that hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage.”
As opposed to Michael Moore and former DNC Chairman Don Fowler, both believing that Hurricane Gustav proved God was on the side of the Democrats when a hurricane caused the first day of the Republican National Convention to be cancelled in 2008. Or their fellow leftists who cheer hurricanes on purely for their destructive value.
While Daniels’ character has been compared to Keith Olberman, he might also be an unwitting portrait of the inner demons of another newsreader associated with NBC, albeit with slightly more self-control. Brian Williams was sold to the American public immediately after the presidential election in 2004 by Jeff Zucker, his then boss at NBC in 2004 with the words, “No one understands this NASCAR nation more than Brian.” Williams promptly started comparing the Founding Fathers to terrorists, and later off in search of Tea Party conspiracies, rather than reporting real news out of Washington.
There would be a great miniseries to be made from the stories of former liberals who’ve moved to the right, despite, in many cases, risks to their careers. It’s too bad HBO would never spring for it. But if they did, they could use as raw material the life stories, of, oh, I don’t know, David Horowitz, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, or our own Roger L. Simon, et al. Or that Ronald Reagan fellow, who was a staunch FDR-supporter in his formative years. (Update: Or David Mamet, Dennis Miller, and other Hollywood figures who’ve come in from the cold.) But that would require both sympathy for an opposing point of view, and doing something pretty radical with a medium that’s long since been reactionary, and fearful of change.
Instead, HBO (and their sister network at Time-Warner, CNN) wants to go down with the ship, until we all have Roku boxes and cable modems, rather than cable television. Watch the rhetoric from those networks to become even more strident, as the icebergs loom ever larger.